Writing Bytes

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 at 11:36 am

Writing Bytes:

RAINBOW ROWELL: There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones.

Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded. Or miss each other at the top of the Empire State Building. If you want anything like that to happen, you either have to explain upfront what happened to the phones or you have to make at least one character some sort of manic pixie Luddite who doesn’t carry one.

When I started my novel “Fangirl” I was determined that the characters would use technology authentically. They’d text and check e-mail and Google things. I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a romantic and human story about people who constantly have laptops in their laps and cellphones in their hands. Plus, I’m always defending the present to teenagers who read “Eleanor & Park,” my novel set in the ’80s, and think things were so much more romantic back then. Mix tapes. Phone calls. Handwritten love notes.

“ ‘Eleanor & Park’ could never happen now,” they say. “ ‘Eleanor & Park’ is happening now,” I argue. “Twenty years from now, you’ll look back on the first time you fell in love, and nothing will seem more romantic than text messages. Or Snapchat. Or whatever it is you’re doing right now behind your parents’ backs.”